EAST CENTRAL MISSISSIPPI 259 War was fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861. On May 29, 1861, the first train pulled by the Mazzeppa, rolled over the Southern into Ball’s Store in Meridian at 6:45 a.m. On board were the Vicksburg Southerners of the Confederate Army. Because the railroad had missed Marion by two miles, Marion Station was built where the current Marion exists today and became the county seat. Newton offered the only station between Jackson and Meridian with a sidetrack where two trains could meet and pass. That affected Newton greatly during the Civil War. The War Between the States (1861-1865) The East Central region contributed more than 170 Confederate companies to the South’s cause in the Civil War. William H. Hardy organized and was elected captain of a unit of volunteers from Smith County that became H Company (The Defenders) of the 16th Mississippi Infantry. The Shubuta Rifles was the first unit in Clarke County to join the Confederate Army. On December 20, 1860, after Abraham Lincoln won the presidency, South Carolina voted to secede from the Union. On January 9, 1861, by a vote of 84-15, Mississippi became the second state to secede from the Union to join the Confederate States of America. The Ordinance of Secession was signed on January 15, 1861. The Army of Mississippi was organized on January 17, 1861. On February 4, 1861, in Montgomery, Alabama, Mississippi joined six other states in the establishment of Confederacy. Jefferson Davis was elected to serve as president of the Confederacy. Newton (Newt) Knight, born in 1837 near the Leaf River in Jones County, moved to Jasper County in 1858. On May 13, 1862, Newt Knight enlisted into Company F of the Seventh Battalion, Mississippi Infantry in Jasper County. Knight became disgruntled over the “Twenty- Negro Law” passed by the Confederate Congress allowing planters owning twenty or more slaves to be exempt from fighting. Newt’s friend, Private Jasper Collins, said this law “…makes it a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight,” before throwing down his arms and leaving the Confederacy. In November 1862, after learning that the Confederate cavalry had seized his family’s horses, Newt went AWOL (Absent Without Official Leave) and refused to return to the Confederate Army. Knight organized a company of around 125 men from Jones, Jasper, Covington, and Smith counties to defend themselves against the Confederates. They were known as The Knight Company. In August 1863,